Elections held in Nicaragua on 7 November have taken place without democratic guarantees and their results lack legitimacy. Daniel Ortega has eliminated all credible electoral competition, depriving the Nicaraguan people of their right to freely elect their representatives. The integrity of the electoral process was crushed by the systematic incarceration, harassment and intimidation of presidential pre-candidates, opposition leaders, student and rural leaders, journalists, human rights defenders and business representatives.
Not only has the Nicaraguan Government deprived the people of Nicaragua of the civil and political right to vote in a credible, inclusive, fair and transparent election, it has also fallen short of its own commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms under Nicaragua’s Constitution, the Inter-American Democratic Charter and international covenants to which the country is a party. Moreover, the Nicaraguan people have been deprived of their freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Dissenting voices are silenced, scores of civil-society organisations have been outlawed, and state repression is unrelenting.
Following the social protests that broke out in the spring of 2018, the Nicaraguan Government unleashed violence against its own people, leaving death, forced disappearance, incarceration, mistreatment and mass exile in its wake and turning the country into a republic of fear. The elections of 7 November complete the conversion of Nicaragua into an autocratic regime.
The European Union has consistently called for respect for human rights, democracy and rule of law, and it will continue to do so. The European Union also reaffirms its commitment to continue supporting the economic and social development of the most vulnerable sectors of Nicaraguan society.
Nicaraguan authorities must put an end to repression and restore the full respect for human rights, including for civil and political rights. International human rights bodies such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) must be authorised to return to Nicaragua. Above all, the European Union calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, and for the annulment of legal proceedings against them.
The European Union has carefully avoided any measures that could potentially add to the hardship of the Nicaraguan people and has consistently targeted only those responsible for the anti-democratic developments in Nicaragua. In that spirit, we will consider all instruments at our disposal to take additional measures, including those that may go beyond individual restrictions.
Finally, we call upon Daniel Ortega to return the sovereignty of Nicaragua to the Nicaraguan people, who are its rightful owners.